Under 6/7 Football
So, your son/daughter has just started playing football. Are you agonising over how to discover the special training techniques that will enable them to score more goals and win more games? Or maybe you're staying up late at night to draw diagram after diagram that reveals in precise detail where every player should be in relation to the ball – that will solve the bunching up problem and it will look like proper football. Do you take it more seriously than the players?
Here are a few suggestions to some of the common ‘problems’ of U6/7 football. Whilst they may seem a little idealistic, the common themes should be for the players to have fun, not be afraid of making mistakes and to be challenged as often as possible.
Why do they chase the ball? All of the players chase the ball – it usually means that every child is having FUN!! You see, that is what every player at this age likes about the game. They can run anywhere they like with no adults telling them to walk and they love the challenge of kicking the ball all by themselves! We tend to forget that there is very little organization in the mind of a 5-6 year old and that sharing is not on the top of the list of their favourite things to do. Do they share with their brothers & sisters? They will spread out as they learn to play with their teammates so just sit back and enjoy the mayhem for now.
Scoring Goals - is an accident most of the time at this age. Let’s be honest, that clump of grass has more to do with the direction of the ball than the player who kicks it (at this age shooting & passing are merely “kicking”).
He/She is a Ball Hog. Which brings us to the question – Are ball hogs good or bad? This age is the beginning of individuality or flair for those who really want to exaggerate. Encourage them to dribble the ball and try to beat other players. In fact, all training sessions at this age should be based around each player working with a ball. Acceptance of failure and the encouragement to try again will help the learning process.
Practice Sessions...the longer the better? What a great way to turn play into work! More is not better at this or any age. Thirty to forty minutes will be long enough to wind them up - then give them back to their parents to calm them down. The excitement of the football experience will then remain fresh.
WINNING … it’s why we are here - is it? Wow, I hope we all have had childhood experiences that were just fun and not necessarily based on winning. Everything in life is based on winning do we really want to emphasize the down side of competition (losing) to 5/6 year olds? They are not concerned what the end of the game brings, so why should we? Remember that youth sports were started so that kids could have fun. The most important things to teach at this age are motor skill development – the ability to control their body – and an appreciation for the fun aspects of the game. The players are presented with an incredible challenge to make their bodies do what they want them to. As a result, the objective becomes one of making their body and the ball work together as one. When they do it well they will look across for acknowledgement with a “did you see that?” look on their face. Hopefully it will be followed by an encouraging word from the adults watching.
So, to re-cap - sit back, relax and have as much fun as they do!!!!!